Land and Resources, Coastline
Southampton Island, Canadian Arctic Archipelago, Anticosti, largest islands, Queen Charlotte Islands
The coast of the Canadian mainland, about 58,500 km (about 36,350 mi) in length, is extremely broken and irregular, with alternating large bays and peninsulas. Canada also has numerous coastal islands, with a total island coastline of about 185,290 km (about 115,130 mi). Off the eastern coast the largest islands are Newfoundland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward, and Anticosti. Off the western coast, which is fringed with fjords, are Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Hudson Bay contains Southampton Island and many smaller islands. The Canadian Arctic Archipelago contains many large and small islands, the largest of which are Baffin, Ellesmere, and Victoria.
The importance of the coastline lies in the access it provides to marine resources. Canada has jurisdiction over resources in the oceans that are within 200 nautical miles (230 mi/370 km) of its shores. It has exclusive rights to the resources within that zone, including fisheries and oil deposits. The most important oil sources at present are the Hibernia Oilfields off Newfoundland and Labrador and the Sable Island reserves off Nova Scotia. The coastline is also important because it provides many natural harbors that have been developed into ports. Ocean ports handle much of Canada’s international trade and provide a significant portion of local and regional coastal economies. Of course, the commercial value of the coastline varies with location; the southern coasts and their ports, such as Vancouver and Victoria in the west and Halifax in the east, are much more important than similar locations in the north, which are icebound much of the year. Finally, coastlines in Canada are very scenic and attract visitors from around the world.
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